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Atatürk Cultural Centre (Atatürk Kültür Merkezi, or AKM)

Gümüşsuyu Mah., Mete Cad. No 2 (i.e., Taksim Square), Beyoğlu, 34437 Istanbul

Note that the ticket office is not in the main building, but in a kiosk to the left.

Taksim metro (M2, Kabataş–Taksim funicular).

Behind the austerely handsome glass façade lies a whole new world.

The Atatürk Cultural Centre (Atatürk Kültür Merkezi or AKM), located in Taksim Square and run by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, is Istanbul’s premier and most capacious venue for concerts, also hosting theatre and ballet performances. Reopened in October 2021 after being completely rebuilt, the complex now includes a number of spaces dedicated to various functions plus a restaurant and cafés. During the interval at a performance, you can get tea, coffee and basic snacks in a large space with seating accommodation on the lower ground floor. Note that the ticket office is not in the main building, but in a kiosk to the left.

The main concert hall is the Türk Telekom Opera Hall (Türk Telekom Opera Salonu), which has a seating capacity of 2,040; the AKM complex also includes a Theatre Hall (Tiyatro Salonu) seating 781, a Multipurpose Hall (Çok Amaçlı Salon) with a seating capacity of 170 and a ‘Culture Street’ (Kültür Yolu) containing the AKM Music Platform (AKM Müzik Platformu), a Children’s Art Centre (Çocuk Sanat Merkezi), an Exhibition Hall (Sergi Salonu) and a cinema. Seen from the foyer (fuaye), the Opera Hall looks like a dark red blood orange with a coruscated and lacquered outer shell; 15,000 specially-manufactured ceramic tiles were used in this shell’s construction. The acoustics in the Opera Hall are adequate, but only if you sit downstairs and not far from the middle of the auditorium; if you sit anywhere else, they are at best mediocre – generally speaking, they are not nearly as good as those of the Ahmed Adnan Saygun Concert Hall in İzmir, which has the best acoustics of any concert hall in Turkey.

The Atatürk Cultural Centre’s Theatre Hall, situated at the entrance to the Culture Street (Kültür Yolu), was specifically designed for stage plays, but also hosts concerts and dance shows.

The nearest metro station is Taksim, on the M2 metro line. This station is also the upper terminus of the funicular from Kabataş. (If you are coming from the Old City or Karaköy, take the T1 tram to Kabataş, then the funicular.) Leaving the station via the Taksim Meydanı (‘Taksim Square’) exit, you will emerge in the middle of the square. The Atatürk Cultural Centre is the large, glass-fronted building at the eastern end of the square – i.e., at the opposite end from the mosque.

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Issue 66, December 2023 Turkey’s Centenary Issue
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